Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cutting Correctly

Like many of you, when I was learning to sew, I was never told to cut off the lines that outline pattern pieces. I think most people I saw either cut outside them, or tried to go right down the center. When I finally heard that you should cut them off, I was surprised, but it sounded okay. I did wonder why the pattern companies never put that in the instructions. (Just one more surprise for us?) Perhaps they do now, I haven't looked.

So, I knew this was the thing to do, but it never really clicked in my head until I was doing these muslins for the coat and jacket I'm working on. I've been tracing around the pattern pieces with a Sharpie to mark the muslin, and it suddenly struck home that the reason you cut off the lines is because they're from tracing around the pattern pieces. It seems very obvious now, but I've never traced around pattern pieces to mark seamlines before except thread tracing on fashion fabric.

Since I'm doing Marfy patterns, there are no seam allowances on them so I'm not actually cutting off the lines, but I am stitching on the inside of the lines, which are fairly thick. I found the easiest way to get an accurate tracing from a paper patter (rather than an oaktag or other thicker pattern) is to use a slightly broader felt tip and run half of it on the pattern paper and the other half will fall on the muslin. That way there's no chance of sliding underneath the paper with the pen. When you're doing this, you're cutting single layer, although you can do double if you mark quite a few points with pins and turn your piece over after you've cut and then re-align your pattern and mark the second side. I do like to cut my fashion fabric single layer when it's important, though. It's easier to thread trace, and you don't have to cut all those tailor tacks apart.

What brought this on? I was looking at Fashion-Incubator and one of the archived posts featured today is about Marking & Cutting accurately. It's a classic, so read and enjoy if you haven't seen it, or even if you have, it's a nice refresher.

7 comments:

Mardel said...

Since I usually trace around my pattern pieces right onto my fabric, I think have been long cutting off my lines and loved reading that post on Fashion Incubator. No one ever taught me that though; like you was told to cut through the lines when I took the only year of Home Economics I was required to take in high school, and the only sewing instruction I ever had. I almost failed. It was the only D I have ever earned...

But when I started teaching myself to make my own clothes I used a lot of the old Burda magazines, in German, with no seam allowances, so it just seemed obvious that when I traced the lines I was tracing bigger than the original, so I cut them off.

I still cut off most of the seam allowances from patterns and find I am disappointed when I do not. I either draw the pattern pieces on the fabric with fabric markers or pastels or I thread-trace, then add my seam allowances later.

I don't think my techniques are what are "proper" but they work for me.

I love going back through fashion incubator and refreshing my memory on some of these technique posts.

Nneka said...

Thank you! I never learned that in any sewing class I've ever taken, but I'm mostly self taught.
-Nneka

Birgitte said...

Thanks for the refresher Liana! I was recently referencing that post in one of my reviews, I should go back and add the link.

Nancy K said...

I knew that you are supposed to cut off the lines, but not the why! Thanks for the info.

Sally said...

I think I first learned this from Sandra Betzina years ago. I never understood why, either, until you explained it. I always love reading your blog--learn something every time. Sally

Summerset said...

Great post and what a great read - thank you for the link!

Mandi said...

it's true! I learned it the first day, when they handed us a set of several HB pencils and were told never ever use anything else for tracing off a block. I still do it.